The other bellbirds are also loud!

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All photos and video © Bente Steffensen & Uffe Damm Andersen.

The world’s most loud bird is a Bellbird

The other day it was a bird who for a short while “stole” the Danish news feeds. Stole is perhaps an exaggeration, but you find the story of the world’s most loud bird – the White Bellbird – in several Danish news media. We shared the story in this post on our Facebook page.

The news of the record was brought in, among others the newspapers Politiken and Jyllandsposten, and the same evening, in a Danish television show called Aftenshowet, the guest panel – in which the Danish Primeminister Mette Frederiksen was a part of. The panel should try to guess what the sound that was played to them was. They guessed it was an animal.

In short, researchers have measured and documented that the mating call of the male White Bellbird can reach a sound pressure of 125.4 dB (decibels), which is about 9 dB higher than what was recorded for the Screaming  Piha, which until now has been the “record holder”.

That is a lot of decibels, but how loud is it really? It is loud and like it was described in an article, it can be compared to that if you put your head into a loudspeaker during a rock concert!

But don’t worry, the White Bellbird lives in a relatively small area in northern South America, so there’s no danger of it showing up one morning and wake you from your sleep.

The result was recently published in this paper in the journal Current  Biology.

Boing! … Boing!

Bellbirds are named after their calls and sounds, which may sound like hitting a bell. It can be very difficult to describe bird songs or bird calls because we perceive sound differently. But if know the key element in the song Boing! made by Danish pop duo Nik & Jay, then that element sounds a bit like a Bellbird “high on speed”.

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The other Bellbirds are also loud!

We have (yet) not seen White Bellbird, but we have seen – and for sure – heard two other species of Bellbirds. And these Bellbirds are also loud and can be noisy.

In Costa Rica, we had the enjoyment of the beautiful Three-wattled Bellbird. A great place, where we heard and saw them several times is the small nature reserve Bajo del Tigre in Monteverde, where there are very good options to watch them really well.

Read also Dry Forest, Bellbird og en Quetzal (in Danish) about when we were birdwatching in Monteverde in Costa Rica.

Three-wattled Bellbird. Trelappet Klokkefug (Procnias tricarunculatus). Bajo del Tigre, Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Three-bearded Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus). Bajo del Tigre, Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Video: Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus). Bajo del Tigre, Monteverde, Costa Rica.

In Trinidad, you should visit the famous Asa Wright Nature Centre if you want to be absolutely sure to get Bearded Bellbird on your list.

All-day long we heard the Bearded Bellbird when we stayed at Asa Wright a few years ago. And with some patience, we also managed to see some of them. Unfortunately, we never got good pictures of them because they moved around in the canopy most of the time, rarely posing out in the open. Instead, we made a good sound recording of two males calling, which you can hear below.

Skægklokkefugl (Procnias averano). Asa Wrigth Natrure Centre, Arimadalen, Trinidad.
When finally there was a Bearded Bellbird (Procnias averano) posing in the open, we were too far away to get a good photo. Asa Wright Nature Centre, Arimadalen, Trinidad.

Read also Devilbirds, Bellbirds og dansende manakiner (in Danish) about  our birdwatching at Asa Wright Nature Centre.


Bellbirds belong to the family Cotingas (Cotingidae), which also includes Umbrellabirds, Pihas, Fruiteaters and Fruitcrows.

They are found in Central and South America, where they all have a limited distribution, associated with tropical and subtropical forests, often in low mountain areas and foothills.  

Bellbirds are placed in the genus Procnias, which consists of four species:

  • White Bellbird Procnias albus, lives in Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and in a small area in northern Brazil.
  • Three-wattled Bellbird Procnias tricarunculatus, living in Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
  • Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicolli, lives in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. It is endemic to Atlantic Forest.
  • Bearded Bellbird Procnias averano, in Trinidad & Tobago, Colombia, Guyana, Venezuela, Bolivia and northeastern Brazil.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G. (eds.) (2019). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 October 2019).

All photos and video © Bente Steffensen & Uffe Damm Andersen

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